There was no news over the weekend, and while I wanted to hope that meant good things, coming into the office this morning I discovered that it actually was the other possibility I didn't want to entertain - i.e. that it was actually very bad news and she just wasn't up to sharing it.
She came in mid-morning, and met with the executive director before coming out to speak to us all in person at the same time, including the staff from our remote office by teleconference.
And yes - it's bad. It's definitely cancer. She's scheduled for a mastectomy and removal of her lymph notes in a bit over two weeks - what they found is not a lump, it's cancer in the ducts and it's broken out of the ducts in a number of places. Essentially, it's an area of breast tissue that's over a quarter of the breast, and therefore a simple lumpectomy is not an option. Also the reason they want to take out her lymph nodes, because there's a possibility that the cancer has already spread.
Once she's recovered from the surgery, she's going to start chemotherapy. She won't know if she needs radiation therapy until the pathology results are in after the surgery.
The good news is that this was detected early, and survivability rates are 85% over five years. She's otherwise fit and healthy, so the chances are very good that she'll be fine once she's had the surgery and treatment.
She's been scared by the insistence on bone scans and chest x-rays, essentially to check to see if there are any other cancer sites, but that's more precautionary than anything else, as it seems very likely that this is early stages and limited to the breast.
For the Aussies among us, if you're over 40, you're entitled to a free mammogram, and she's urging all of us to go and get one. While 50% of breast cancers are diagnosed in women over 50, 25% are detected in women 40 to 50. And breast self-examination goes without saying, although she was doing that and couldn't feel any changes. Even now, knowing where it is, she can't feel anything different.
Knowing the full story has upset us all, although we know that even though it's bad news, it's still probably going to be a positive outcome. We'll be finding a temporary project manager, because realistically she won't be back until at least July, even if all goes well. She's facing a month of recovery post-surgery, and then three months of chemo. And then time recovering from that.
The good news is that she has a wonderful support network of family and friends for her, and we've all offered to do anything she needs - from the practical to simply giving her company if she needs it.
Some light-hearted moments came out in the coversation - she has an 11 year old son (and she's only recently separated from his dad), and his major concern so far has been how she "has to" get a wig when she loses her hair, and she must wear it when she comes to pick him up from school. And after she sat him down to explain what was happening, he said after a bit, "Mum, can we not talk about boobs anymore? It's getting boring."
Cue vastly amused laughter from everyone, and the suggestion she should have got that little gem on tape, for that time in the future when as a teenage boy, it's likely to be all he can think about!
And we've just had a discussion about her reconstructive surgery options. It's not something everyone has, and it's not even considered until after she's done with chemo and radiation, because the radiation can thicken the scar tissue and deform the reconstruction.
Her personal trainer is apparently wanting to advise her on surgeons for this, because she's on her third breast augmentation. She's reed thin, with a pair of DDs sticking out a mile, and the boss isn't really sure that she's the right person to be giving her advice!
So I offered the information that my own surgeon will refer me to a plastic surgeon once I've lost my weight for my own cosmetic reconstructions, and that I'll be looking at breast augmentation of my own. Because my own poor boobies are becoming smaller and depressingly saggy, and there are limits to how many plastic "chicken fillets" you can wear in a bra!
And I'm certainly not going to be looking for any porn star proportions when I get mine done, so I've promised to be her hook up when I get my referral. In fact, I suggested we could go in and get our boobs done together . . . and then we would have the best boobs in the project!!
Hey, it made us laugh, and that was kind of important today.
Thanks to everyone who sent hugs and positive thoughts - it meant a lot to me, even if I couldn't express that at the time. I might still be a bit quiet while all of this sinks in - I've resorted to a Valium today to give me a bit of breathing space while I get my head around it all.
But on the up side, and totally frivolously, I won an eBay auction this morning (a few minutes after we sat down to talk with the boss) for a copy of 'Taker's DVD - This is My Yard. Thanks muchly to panthology for hooking me up to the auction just before the weekend - I've wanted that DVD for a long time and could never get my hands on it before.
And my beautiful 'Taker rosaries arrived yesterday from dangerpuddle - and those of you on bros_destruct know what I'm talking about. If you don't, check out this post from there! I adore them - they are so beautiful, and honestly, if you love pretty jewelry, you really should check out her Etsy store. And yes, order your very own custom rosary!
Of course, those of us who spend a lot of time staring at 'Taker's thighs will have realised that he's actually changed the design of the rosary in recent weeks - it now features five decades, not three, and a different skull. But you'll be pleased to know that at some point in the future, I'm sure dangerpuddle will be able to replicate that one too! Guess I'll end up with three 'Taker rosaries! Not to mention a Kane rosary or two, when she comes up with a design for that one!